When they reached Conaught Mews, Amelia suggested that she went through the Fellini file in detail to bring herself up to date, then they spent the evening in some serious thinking about the case and in what direction they should go next. With each day that passed, they knew that the chances of finding Robert were fading, especially the hope of finding him alive. After some light refreshments, to make up for the lunch they had missed, Amelia got out the file. Jane said “While you are doing that, I will go to Scotland Yard and tell Inspector Knott and Sergeant Jones, what has happened. If we do get involved in some misconduct concerning a quarter million pounds of Bearer Bonds then I would feel happier that they knew in advance. If things get rough for instance, we will have to call them in and there may not be time to explain the situation at the time. The other lead that has just occurred to me was we asked them to locate Robert’s next of kin who, if he were to inherit Robert’s fortune on his death, would have a motive.”
Amelia could not find any suitable excuse to ask Jane not to “Just don’t mention Lord F and it might be better if you didn’t mention that we had the file. Only tell them what we learned from Cabus.” Jane readily assented and left. Amelia watched her get onto her bicycle and pedal off, then got down to reading what was a very thick file.
Jane arrived back around teatime, carrying a bag on the back of her bicycle. She took it round the back, came in through the kitchen and went straight to her room. She appeared in the consulting room some minutes later to find Amelia still working her way through the file. She looked up and asked Jane how she had got on. “Well, Inspector Knott and Sergeant Jones really started to take interest when I mentioned the amount the Bonds were worth. They were surprised that what appeared to be a simple disappearance had turned in something rather bigger. Because of the involvement of a Government Department, they were unsure how to get involved and seemed quite relieved when I said that we had no actual evidence of wrong doing. They did insist that we kept them informed, which I said we would do, but they also told me to keep you out of trouble. I didn’t reply to that. They did have the last word though about Robert’s next of kin and the inheritance. They checked up on Robert’s will, and in fact, if he dies before the sisters, they get to share the money, so if anyone had a motive, it would be them. Sergeant Jones said that they were unlikely to be the killers, and unless they were very good actresses, they didn’t even know that they would end up with the money, so we can close that line of enquiry. How have you got on with Fellini v Pablo and Beech?”
“Its a very complex case, and worthy of Robert’s involvement. This three sided relationship, of Fellini making the rifles and selling them them to P & B who then sell them on to the War Department, gives plenty of room for ‘dodgy dealing’ if that’s what someone wants to get involved in. I won’t go into it right now, but I have the addresses of Fellini’s hotel and P & B’s offices, and I suggest that we visit Mr Fellini in the morning. He is bound to be in the country to take possession of those Bonds. P & B also have a warehouse, and they probably import a lot more than guns, so I think it would be interesting to look round so I’ve sent a message to Ruddock to go and have a look and report back.”
“Are you thinking that Lord F will pay the warehouse a visit?” asked Jane with a twinkle in her eye.
Amelia retorted rather seriously “I wish I had not told you, now. I don’t just look for excuses to get dressed up. There has to be a serious reason and no I had not thought of it. I will wait until I get something back from Ruddock.” Jane was not convinced, but said nothing. Amelia went on “I’ve spent most of the day reading this stuff. Let’s skip tea and have dinner, then afterwards, we can sit by the fire, with our brandy and cigars and work out where we are with the case and where we go from here.” Jane agreed that that was a good idea, except of course there would not be the brandy and cigars, that was just affectation on Amelia’s part.
After an excellent dinner provided by Mary, Joseph and her excellent cook, Penny, they settled down on either side of the fireplace with sweetmeats and a glass of Madeira wine. Jane was more inclined to drift off to sleep, but Amelia was alert and started to summarise. “We started off with 3 leads, his work, the tennis club and the billiard’s hall. The first led us to Beatrice Newby, which was a disaster for us and close to a disaster for her, the second we have still to follow up and the third, ” here she hesitated “led us into a very threatening situation, from which you saved me.” She smiled at Jane, who smiled in return. “We still have to follow up with the tennis club, but thus far, it was total failure. Now we have this lead from the case he was studying, Fellini v Pablo and Beech and the fact that Mr Fellini visited Robert the week before he disappeared. Just in passing, every time I think of the name Pablo, I think of ice cream. I don’t know why it must have been part of my childhood.”
Jane laughed and interrupted, “If we can see Fellini tomorrow, we can find out why he went to see Robert. Then, depending on what we find out from him, we can go and see Messers Pablo and Beech and see if they sell ice cream as well as deal in guns.”
“We are still no nearer knowing what has happened to Robert, whether he is alive or dead, and why he disappeared in the first place. As the Great Detective apparently used to say of a difficult case, ‘this is a 3 pipe problem’. Well we don’t smoke, so let’s have another glass of Madeira and think about our problem.”Jane poured out the wine. “First we know he went into the office on the morning he disappeared, and it was not his usual day. Maybe he had thought of something overnight and he went into the office to check it out. We also know that Fellini went to see him the week before, and Robert was dealing with a complex case, which we have now found out involves the transfer of a lot of money. Apparently there is a dispute about how many rifles were delivered to the War Department. Looking at the records in the case file for instance, Fellini claims he dispatched 60 rifles on 5 February last year, but P&B claim they only received 35 which they passed on to the Department. This happened again in April, when Fellini claims he sent 135 and P&B claim they only received 75 which they passed on, so Fellini was only paid by the War Department for the ones they received, not the ones Fellini said he sent. Fellini engaged Robert to fight his cause with the War Department and incidentally with P & B. The obvious question is ‘who is lying?’ If Fellini is telling the truth, where did the other rifles get to? Did P & B keep them behind and sell them to someone else? Did Robert work out what had happened, confronted the thieves and was bumped off so that he would not talk?”
“And is all this just a side show? If the War Department has agreed to buy the whole of Fellini’s output for the next two years for around a quarter of a million pounds, as Cabus said, then will someone try to steal the Bonds. It will be much more lucrative that selling a few rifles.”
“It amazes me that the War Department should take such a risk without first of all sorting out the problem of the missing rifles. Ah! another option is that someone at the War Department is in on the conspiracy, perhaps even a Government Minister! This problem is getting more intractable rather than clearer. Maybe we should take up smoking to help our powers of deduction.”
“I have had another thought, which is more positive. My limited experience as a police officer, is that villains are very frightened of the noose.”
“Well they should be.”
“Yes but, a murderer for example carries out his crime, doing his (or her) best to cover his (or her) tracks hoping they will not get caught. The cleverest, think the police are so stupid that they will always get away with it. Thieves and robbers on the other hand, want to get away with their loot, but take being caught as a sort of wager, which is why the ‘regulars’ are in and out of jail. They would rather get caught, than commit murder with the possibility of going to the gallows.”
“And the point is?”
“If someone is intent on stealing the Bonds and Robert somehow found out what was intended, then they would kidnap him and keep him until the deed was done and they had made their escape, rather than risk the gallows by killing him.”
“Well, ” concluded Amelia, “that is an optimistic note to end our discussion this evening. Let us sleep on it and get up early tomorrow to see Mr Fellini.”